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Problems in the nose that cause sinus infections

Enlarged tissues, polyps, and deviated nasal septum can make the sinuses more susceptible to infection, which may require surgery to treat.

Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses and cavities in the skull are lined with blocked or inflamed tissue. The sinus cavities produce mucus continuously. Under normal circumstances, mucus from the sinuses drains into the nasal passages or into the back of the throat. When the sinus cavities are separated from the air and cannot escape, creating an environment where germs can multiply and grow. In many cases, especially those with acute sinusitis, congestion is caused by swelling of the nasal tissues and excess or thick mucus.

Acute sinusitis lasts four weeks or less. Chronic sinusitis lasts for three months or more. Sometimes chronic sinusitis is not caused by mucus but by tissue that blocks the sinus cavities and prevents them from draining. This can happen because of abnormally enlarged tissue, scar tissue in the sinuses or nasal passages from surgery or trauma, and abnormal growths such as polyps, small sinuses and nasal passages.

When the sinuses are blocked, it often leads to chronic sinusitis rather than acute sinusitis and often requires surgery to treat.

Hypertrophic tissues

Structures in the nose can directly interfere with the normal drainage of the sinus cavities. Also, because the back of the throat, nose, sinuses, and ears are all connected, certain conditions, such as ear infections or fluid in the ears, can be associated with sinusitis. It is not uncommon for structures such as adenoids or turbines in the nose to become enlarged and contribute to sinusitis and other ear, nose, or throat problems.

As the adenoids enlarge, they not only block the sinuses but also obstruct the drainage ducts. This can lead to an ear infection or fluid in the ear. In this case, surgery to remove the appendage may be needed to resolve ear and sinus problems.

The turbine is part of the nasal passages and works to warm and humidify the air we breathe. They can become enlarged and may require medication or sometimes surgery to shrink them. Some people develop an air sac in the middle turbine called a concha bullosa that can predispose them to sinus problems. Repair of turbines required surgery.

Sinusitis often causes a runny nose, making the patient uncomfortable.  Photo: Freepik

Sinusitis often causes a runny nose, making the patient uncomfortable. Image: Freepik

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps can contribute to the development of sinusitis. Nasal polyps are masses of tissue that develop inside the nose and sometimes in the sinuses. They are not cancerous and often occur as a result of inflammation. Some causes of inflammation are allergies, asthma, or sinusitis. Nasal polyps are usually surgically removed if they do not respond to medication. Certain types of cancer can also cause growths that block the sinuses.

Deviated nasal septum

The septum consists of a piece of cartilage in the front and a piece of bone in the back to divide the nostrils. It is usually centrally located but can be displaced to the side due to birth defects or trauma such as a broken nose. People with deviated septum are very susceptible to sinusitis. Septal plasty is a surgery in which damaged parts of the septum are repaired and then the septum is realigned.


Genetic differences can make some people more susceptible to sinusitis. For example, small facial features can constrict facial structures and make it harder for the sinuses to drain. This happens more often in children who naturally have smaller sinuses and nasal passages. Certain birth defects or genetic syndromes that affect facial structure such as cleft palate and Down syndrome may also increase the risk of sinusitis. In the United States, these structural abnormalities can often be corrected with surgery.

Kim Uyen
(According to Verywell Health)

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